Legal Business

EDF Energy

  • Legal affairs director and company secretary: Guido Santi.
  • Team headcount: 47 (including support staff).

EDF Energy, one of the UK’s big six energy suppliers, has faced a tumultuous 2014 that highlighted how effectively the legal team operates in a politically sensitive industry. The team guided the business through the controversial investigation undertaken by Ofgem over its failure to handle consumer complaints efficiently between May 2011 and January 2012, which led to Ofgem levying a £3m fine. It further handled the process by which EDF obtained approval from the EU Commission for a state subsidy scheme that offers the company a set price for 35 years and cleared the way for the first nuclear reactors to be built in Britain for nearly 20 years.

The Brussels decision has paved the way for EDF Energy’s £16bn plan to construct Hinkley Point C in Somerset, south-west England. Other recent mandates for the team include calling on the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the supply and acquisition of energy in Britain, to identify areas where there is room for improvement in the interests of customers.

One partner at an international law firm says: ‘The team has clear focus, robust analysis and is collaborative – and with good team spirit at the same time. They have many strong characters in their business, yet handle the complex views expressed well.’

Cited in particular is legal affairs director, Guido Santi – who heads the team after moving from its Italian subsidiary four years ago – and Joe Souto, head of legal, customers.

‘Souto brings his deep knowledge of the industry to bear when faced with issues,’ the partner says.

The legal team was also tasked with reviewing its legal panel and has brought in structural change by replacing its current two-year system for a three-year term. Current UK panel firms include Baker & McKenzie, Herbert Smith Freehills, Pinsent Masons and Squire Patton Boggs, and the review is understood to mirror the 2012 process, with firms expected to agree fixed, discounted rates of up to 30%.